Beneficial Volunteer Relationships

Association volunteering is designed to benefit both the organization and the volunteer. Volunteers’ time and energy advances their professions and industries, while enabling them to participate in peer networks and contribute to their fields’ bodies of knowledge. Organizations in return benefit from their volunteers’ specific knowledge of their fields as well as volunteer support and direction in pursuit of their missions.

But how are associations doing in maintaining that balance of mutual benefits? And how does mutual benefit relate to mutual satisfaction?

In 2016, the ASAE Foundation retained Mariner Management & Marketing and Whorton Marketing & Research to advance the association community’s knowledge of effective volunteer management systems. The research team used a multi-phase, mixed-methods approach to examine the systems and structures associations use to manage volunteer experiences and how organizations use these systems to provide for the mutual benefit of the member and the association:

  • In the first phase, 1,016 unique associations participated in a survey that explored the overall structure, general processes, composition, and size of each association’s volunteer management system as well as staff perceptions of the efficacy of the systems and performance of the volunteers. Researchers then completed in-depth telephone interviews with 75 survey respondents to better understand their volunteer-assessment processes and criteria. Findings from this phase were captured in Achieving Mutually Beneficial Volunteer Relationships: Summary of Phase I.

  • The second phase engaged members and volunteers from 50 participating associations in a survey about their volunteer experiences and perceptions of the system. The researchers received 25,200 survey responses that provided volunteer, former volunteer, and “never volunteer” perspectives on their association volunteer management systems.

  • In the third phase, the project team compared staff and volunteer satisfaction with the structure and performance of the volunteer management systems. That analysis informed Mutually Beneficial Volunteerism: Opportunities for Enhancing Association Volunteer Management Systems, the report on the complete findings of the research.

The study generated a large amount of information and data, so further content will be developed from the findings in 2017 and 2018.

Additional Publications and Resources

Successful Volunteer Relationships Start With Creating the Right Fit

Support Volunteers As You Do Employees